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7 Steps For Realistic, Achievable New Year's Resolutions: A Second Chance!

The new year is a valuable opportunity to improve the quality of your life and happiness... Lose weight, eat healthfully, exercise... But most of us make impossible new year's resolutions, and have given up by now. Does that describe you?


Don't get me wrong. Resolutions are good. For instance, losing weight, eating more healthfully, being more physically active, are often essential life goals leading to increased energy, health and happiness.

But "losing weight" - or achieving any goal - means nothing without deciding on shrewd, small, concrete changes which can easily be incorporated into your daily routine. Look for approaches that complement, not dominate, your life.

Setting Goals, Keeping Goalsexcerpted from "Diet Simple: 195 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations" by Katherine Tallmadge

I can't stress enough that goals should be fun and liberating, not just another ball and chain that weighs you down and reminds you of your failures. (We all have them, believe me!)

Everyone's goals are different, of course. I don't presume to have a one-size-fits-all set of goals that works for everyone. Over the years, however, I have developed some goal-setting strategies that I think will make a real difference.

For success, your goals should be:

Realistic. Perfectionistic goals set you up for failure.

Small, behavioral steps. You can't set a goal of losing 2 pounds, but you can set a goal of doing the things that will cause you to lose 2 pounds. For instance, bringing a yogurt snack to work or adding delicious vegetable dishes to lunch and dinner.

Katherine Tallmadge
Katherine Tallmadge

Positive. Instead of stating what you won't do ("I've got to stop eating chips every night"), state what you will do ("I'll prepare a delicious fruit salad to snack on in the evenings").

Flexible. Setting a goal to "exercise every day" may not be possible because of unforeseen circumstances. But saying instead, "I will be physically active 5 out of 7 days," or "I will increase my daily pedometer steps by 2,000 this week," is certainly do-able.

Measurable. "I'll eat more fruits and vegetables," is a noble goal, but how will you know when you reach it? Give yourself specific criteria so you can reward yourself for a job well done. "I'll make a delicious vegetable batch recipe this weekend," or "I'll add a vegetable soup or salad to lunches this week."

Important to you. Your goal must come from your heart, not your spouse's or parent's.

In a supportive environment. Does your home and work environment make healthful behaviors easier or harder? Do you need to have healthful, tasty, ready-to-grab foods in your refrigerator? Do you need your spouse to participate more fully with your healthy lifestyle? Take a look at your environment to determine if it is supportive enough and you have the tools you need to achieve your goals.

The battle of the bulge will be won at the margins. Sweeping changes are impractical and won't work!

This article is excerpted from my book, "Diet Simple: 195 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations" (LifeLine Press)